Water Skiing for Beginners

water skier hitting wakes on boat

At some point in history, a person was in the mountains. This person watched someone strap two thin sticks to their feet and go sliding down the powdery snow at breakneck speeds. That same person (the one watching, presumably) thought, “You know what? I bet I can do that on water.”

And you know what? That person was right. It’s different, but a lot of the mechanics are similar.

New to it? Let’s cover some of the basics.

Water Skiing Gear

man holding tether while water skiing
Photo by Billy N on Reshot

Unlike skiing in the mountains, the water doesn’t help with the whole gravity thing. In fact, you’re actually trying to counter gravity, which makes it all the more difficult. So first and foremost, you need some kind of motored watercraft—could be a boat, could be a hot jet ski.

Next, and we’ll cover this more later, but you need a personal flotation device. Never, ever try to ski without a PFD. Ideally, a nicely fitted one.

A tether and handle that connects to the boat will pull you along.

And, of course, you’ll need skis. Some skis come with bindings, others don’t (so you’ll need them). As a beginner, you’ll want to look for a wider body which will let you come up out of the water easier, and land if you happen to catch any air off the wake. If you’re more advanced…well, you’re reading the wrong article.

Water Skiing Practice

skis on a dock
Photo by Clark Young on Unsplash

You’ve got your gear (or more likely are trying it out with someone who knows what they’re doing) and you’re ready to hit the water. Or are you? Before you jump in, get a feel for what you’re doing on dry land.

    • Learn how to get your feet in the bindings, and adjust for comfort.
    • Understand the “cannonball” starting position: tuck your knees up into your chest as you sit on the skis.
    • Hold the handle with both hands knuckles up.

Once you’re in the water, signal to the driver that you’re ready to go. Rope and handle between the skis, hang on tight, and don’t try to pull yourself up; let the boat and the momentum pull you up from cannonball into a sitting position. Then let your hips come under your shoulders.

Keep your eyes forward. To turn, or “carve” behind the boat and hit the wakes, lift the weight off the foot in the direction you want to go, and apply more pressure to the opposite leg. Don’t get it? Picture this: you’re skiing along and want to carve toward the right wake. Release pressure from your right foot and apply pressure with your left. You’ll head right toward the wake.

When you hit the wake, absorb the shock with loose knees. Now keep after it and enjoy yourself.

Water Skiing Safety

a boat pulling some skiiers
Image by pasja1000 from Pixabay

Skiing is a lot of fun. But any time you’re in the water, it’s important to stay as safe as possible.

    • Always, always, ALWAYS wear a PFD.
    • Don’t ever, ever ski near docks, swimming areas, or other boats.
    • Make sure the water you’re in is good and deep.
    • If you’re going to fall, try to fall backwards or to the side to reduce potential contact with the skis.
    • If you fall in an area with other boats, lift a ski up out of the water to signal to other boats that you’re there.
    • Don’t put any part of your body through the handle, and make sure the rope is clear of your body and other obstructions.
    • Have an observer in the towboat or jet ski to keep an eye on the skier.

Have any questions or concerns? Leave a comment below!


One comment

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    I tore my bicep first time skiing when I fell 🙁

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